This Is Why Your Ceiling Fan Light Is Flickering

A flickering ceiling fan light can be caused by numerous factors, some of which are a cause for concern, while others are not.

A ceiling fan light could flicker due to several factors, including old age, use of incorrect bulbs with dimmer switches, loose installation, and loose wiring. The best way to fix this is to replace the old bulbs with new ones and ensure that all wiring and installations are tight.

In order to determine the cause of the flickering ceiling light, it is important to start by eliminating potential causes one at a time. By eliminating simple causes such as loose lightbulbs, it will be possible to identify the root cause of the problem through the process of elimination.

flickering ceiling fan lights

Why Does My Ceiling Fan Light Flicker?

Light bulbs are not all made the same, and some light bulbs might simply have better compatibility with your specific light fitting when compared to other bulbs. 

Fluorescent bulbs, for example, have a tendency to flicker with age as well as with temperature changes.

A simple fix, in this case, could involve simply swapping out the fluorescent bulb for LED-type bulbs. However, LED bulbs too can flicker, not because of a problem with the bulb itself but because of any of the following reasons.

If your light fitting makes use of a dimmer switch, the use of the incorrect bulb could be causing the light to flicker. This is because incandescent light bulbs are the best type of bulb to function with dimmer switches, and an LED bulb would not be the best option in this context.

Loose light bulbs could be causing your ceiling light to flicker. This is caused by a light bulb not being screwed in properly upon installation, and subsequently being shaken loose by the vibrations in the fan.

Light switches are another common cause of flickering lights. Old dimmer switches might be incompatible with newer bulbs, and loose or faulty wiring could be causing a problem with normal light switches.

Old light fixtures might flicker from time to time, and this is simply a matter of age and perhaps an indicator of the need for a new fitting altogether.

An overloaded circuit is another possible cause of a flickering light, and this is relatively easy to identify at first glance. If any larger home appliance is turned on and this causes the lights to flicker, it could be an indicator that the circuit is overloaded.

This means that there is simply not sufficient electric current present in order to power everything that requires electricity simultaneously.

Another possibility in the flickering lights scenario is the prevalence of loose wiring. This is potentially a major problem because it can cause electrical fires in addition to flickering.

How Do You Fix a Flickering Ceiling Fan Light?

Once the cause of the flickering light has been determined, it is possible to determine the best way to fix it.

If the flicker is caused by loose wiring, it is extremely important that an electrician is brought in to fix the issue. Without professional assistance in repairing or replacing old or loose wiring, an electrical fire could result which could potentially burn down the entire house.

If the flickering is caused by old light bulbs, the fix involves simply replacing the old light bulbs with new bulbs, and perhaps replacing old fluorescent bulbs with newer, more environmentally friendly LED bulbs.

Loose light bulbs are another easy fix, which involves simply screwing in the lightbulbs correctly and tightly. This should only be done, however, once the lights in this fixture are turned off. The light bulbs should be given sufficient time to cool down, or gloves should be used, and the bulb can then be properly tightened into place.

If a dimmer switch is the cause of the issue, it can be rectified simply by checking the ratings on the bulbs and the switches. These ratings need to be compatible in order for the bulb and the dimmer switch to work harmoniously together.

In some instances, it may be necessary to swap out the switch for a new one that is compatible with the type of bulb in use. For example, certain dimmer switches are made to be compatible only with LED bulbs.

If the light fixture itself is the cause of the flickering, it is relatively simple to purchase and install a new fitting. This should not, however, be performed without an electrician.

In the instance that a current limiter is causing the bulbs to flicker, it can be as simple as removing the current limiter in order to fix the issue.

An overloaded circuit is a relatively simple fix, but this must also be performed by an electrician. If there is a specific appliance that is causing the circuit to be overloaded, an electrician can simply install another circuit that will separate the appliance from the rest of the lights.

Another manner in which to reduce the load on the circuit is to replace all the light bulbs in the circuit with low-wattage LED bulbs. This type of bulb draws less current than fluorescent bulbs, and so this will assist greatly in this context.

Ceiling fan light flickers when turned off

Some fan light fixtures can be turned on independently of the fan; they have a separate on/off switch. In such cases, you may find that the light is working fine while the fan is running. But if the light itself is turned on, it starts flickering.

If the light flickers when the fan is turned off, it is because you use a dimmer switch. Most light fixtures that come with fans are not compatible with dimmer switches. Therefore, when the lights work fine with the fan on, that won’t be the case when you have only the light on.

Ceiling fan Light flickers on momentarily when turned off at the switch

If the ceiling fan light flickers on momentarily when turned off, it is because it uses an LED light bulb. LED lights can work with very little currents, and this split-second flickering is because of returns of current from the fan capacitor or the supply, or even from the rotation of the fan.

This is a very common occurrence, and there is nothing to worry about. If you want to know more about the technical side of this, here is a good video;

Ceiling fan light flickers once when turned on

In some cases, when you turn on the fan, the light flickers once and then turn off completely. The most possible reason for this is either loose wiring or a loose bulb. Ceiling fans vibrate slightly when running, and this vibration can loosen the bulb or the wiring. The light flickers for a moment because there is some loose connection, but then it turns off because the vibration from the running fan separates the electrical connection.

Is a Flickering Ceiling Light Dangerous?

If the flickering light is being caused by something as simple as an old bulb or a loose bulb, it is not necessarily dangerous.

It can become dangerous, however, if the flickering light is caused by an overloaded circuit or loose wiring.

If this is the case, great damage can be caused to appliances and it is even possible for this to become a fire hazard.

Are Flickering Lights a Fire Hazard?

Flickering lights can become a fire hazard in the event that the circuit becomes heavily overloaded, or if there are loose wires in the circuit.

These loose connections can cause a phenomenon known as arcing, when an electrical current is able to jump over a gap in the connection. This can cause any nearby flammable materials to catch alight, resulting in the fire quickly spreading to other flammable materials nearby.


It has been established through the above that there are numerous factors that could cause a ceiling light to flicker. Therefore, it is important to go through a process of elimination to establish the root cause of the flickering light, and then fix the issue accordingly. When in doubt, it is always best to contact an electrician.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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